Mel Lewis first teamed up with renowned trumpeter Thad Jones to form the band that later became the legendary Mel Lewis Orchestra. Brimming with some of the best players in the Big Apple, the band quickly found success. They also became the Monday night band at the world’s most famous jazz club, New York’s The Village Vanguard. With Jones’ departure in ’78, Mel took over as leader, shaping the band into “one of the most exciting and innovative big bands ever to grace the jazz scene” (jazz writer Mike Hennessey). This album’s theme is special: pieces by one of the greatest jazz musicians of the last half century, Herbie Hancock, with Bob Mintzer taking on the arranging duties. A quick rundown of who solos: One Finger Snap features John Marshall on trumpet, Lee Robertson’s trombone, and Jim McNeely on piano. Dolphin Dance: Dick Oats alto, John Mosca, trombone. On Wiggle Waggle Richard Perry takes the tenor solo, Jim McNeely the piano, and Carl Gardner the trumpet; the feel is funk with a dash of Latin. With its rich, inventive juxtaposition of French horn, flutes, and horns, the ballad Speak Like A Child is one of Mintzer’s arranging highpoints on the album. Dick Oats takes the emotive soprano solo. Eye Of The Hurricane showcases Gary Pribek’s baritone sax; Joe Lovano’s tenor solo foreshadows his rise to stardom, and Mel gets in his licks with a tempestuous solo. Mike Hennessey calls the music “big band jazz at the highest state of the art” It’s a good call.